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National Wildlife Federation recognizes UC Berkeley for lands and grounds care programs
08 January 2002

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - The University of California, Berkeley, is among universities and colleges lauded by the National Wildlife Federation in its first-ever assessment of the environmental performance of U.S. campuses.

UC Berkeley is cited in the National Wildlife Federation's recent "national report card" for an exemplary lands and grounds management program. The schools selected in this category boast at least four of the following campus-wide programs: habitat restoration; native landscaping; identification and removal of invasive exotic species; integrated pest management; and provision of food and shelter to attract wildlife.

"Little has been known, until now, about broader trends in environmental performance and sustainability in higher education and, consequently, there has been no baseline from which to measure progress across a range of issues," the federation said in its report.

The federation did not assign individual rankings to schools, saying the purpose of the survey of environmental performance at accredited colleges and universities in the nation is to stimulate discussion and focus attention on various environmental performances of educational institutions.

A leader in integrated pest management since the 1970s, UC Berkeley crews rely on the least toxic and least harmful, innovative methods and use pesticides more as a last resort. Margaret Hurlbert, acting head of pest management at UC Berkeley, said innovation is critical.

For example, she said, the campus uses biological controls to limit some creatures such as cockroaches and often works with architects to incorporate preventative designs to keep pigeons and other unwanted critters away. A fire alarm inside one building was painted white because, when it was red, it attracted hummingbirds. Nets have been strung across part of the rooftop of the Hearst Mining Building and slanted concrete pieces installed near pillars of Tolman Hall to keep roosting pigeons away.

UC Berkeley landscape architect Jim Horner said the campus also strives to protect its natural environment. An example can be seen in Strawberry Creek, which meanders through the central campus.

The urban creek is a resource to thousands of students from UC Berkeley and surrounding public elementary and high schools. They use it as an outdoor laboratory to explore environmental studies, art, engineering, landscape design and other topics. A walking guide to the plant and animal life, as well as man-made landmarks along the creek, is available online.

UC Berkeley crews remove non-native, invasive plants where possible along the creek and replace them with native plants. Plans call for removing old storm water structures along the creek, replacing walls with boulders to create a cascade effect and natural changes in elevation that allow fish to travel upstream.

The National Wildlife Federation made its assessments with the help of a Web-based survey conducted with Princeton Survey Research Associates and distributed to presidents, provosts and chiefs of facilities at 3,900 of 4,100 colleges and universities in the country. There were 1,116 responses from 891 institutions.

Open-ended survey sections generated substantial comment about numerous challenges campuses face in their efforts to improve their environmental performance, officials said.

The National Wildlife Federation's report, "State of the Campus Environment: A National Report Card on Environmental Performance and Sustainability in Higher Education," is online.